860C.48/11–2444: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Winant )

10128. From Department and FEA for EWD.67a Reply has been deferred to Embassy’s 9853, November 11 pending a general discussion of this matter with Stone.

It appears that the British Government is reluctant to agree to a formal relaxation of the principle of strict blockade but that the British authorities seem willing to agree to ad hoc relaxations in specific instances of great need, e.g., the recent case of the Netherlands [Page 292] and the shipment of supplies to Pruszkow.68 This seems to be borne out further by Embassy’s 1035169 and 10377, November 24.70

Prior to the receipt of the two last mentioned telegrams it had been decided to suggest that the Embassy endeavor to obtain British concurrence to increased shipments of supplies to Norway on an ad hoc basis to expand the present Swedish-directed relief program in that country. It now appears that Embassy and MEW already are proceeding along this line.

We heartily endorse the action being taken by Embassy and MEW and the Embassy’s suggestions to the Legations at Stockholm and Bern. We would stress, however, the necessity for the utmost speed in this matter particularly with regard to Norway since that area would seem to be the one where immediate action is the most practicable since, for the time being at least, shipments are possible in the Swedish safe-conduct ships. Should those ships no longer remain available it might be possible to send supplies in the Red Cross ships to Göteborg. If satisfactory distribution arrangements in Poland can be worked out by ICRC [IRCC] we would favor liberal compensatory imports for Switzerland to make possible relief exports to Poland. Polish Embassy Washington (which has been informed by Polish Government, London, of its approach to British Government which prompted, presumably, the inquiry mentioned in Embassy’s 10351) has discussed with Department question of financing program from Switzerland costing approximately 9,000,000 Swiss francs. Half would be met by Polish Government, London, and rest would have to be raised in United States. This phase of matter being explored.

It is hoped that MEW will not insist upon the strict application of the theory of indigenous produce as regards supplies from either Norway or Switzerland for this purpose. We are fully prepared to allow Sweden and Switzerland compensatory imports and to give the JSC at Stockholm and the Legations at Bern wide discretion along the lines recommended by the Joint Anglo-American Relief Committee in regard to Norway as set forth in Embassy’s A–1211, October 4.71

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As regards German assurances, reference is made to Department’s 8882, October 25,72 which position is reaffirmed.

As noted above we are willing, in order to obviate further delay, to accept ad hoc arrangements. We suggest, however, that Embassy and EWD continue efforts to obtain British concurrence to the general recommendations set forth in Embassy’s A–1211.

  1. Economic Warfare Division of the Embassy in London.
  2. Reference is to shipments of relief supplies through Red Cross channels for Polish inmates of the Pruszkow concentration camp during September and October.
  3. Not printed; in this telegram Ambassador Winant reported that the Ministry of Economic Warfare had requested the British Legation in Bern to obtain information from the International Red Cross Committee concerning which localities in Poland were in particular need of food relief, and to ask the Swiss Government to what extent the required supplies could be made available in Switzerland (860C.48/11–2444).
  4. Not printed; this telegram reported that the Ministry of Economic Warfare had requested the British Legation in Stockholm to ascertain whether additional relief supplies were available in Sweden (857.48/11–2444).
  5. Not printed, but see telegram 8373, October 5, from London, p. 282.
  6. Not printed.